Between the heavy propagation of steel watches and the ever-expanding list of watch brands adding less complicated (and thus more affordable) models to their collections, “bang for your buck” is the one trend more luxury watch brands than ever are embracing. “This is the new economic trend in our industry, and brands need to adapt.” Stated Thomas Morf, CEO of Favre-Leuba, a recently rebooted brand whose vintage chronographs and dive watches from the 1960s and ’70s have been gaining traction in the collector market. “It’s not about being cheap, but perceived value is very important to collectors and consumers, and we all need to pay close attention.”
Morf is right—though overall sales are still on the decline, statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry show that through 2016 and into the first quarter of 2017, sales of watches made from steel and other non-precious metals have been the least impacted. In February alone, year-over-year volume of steel watch sales declined 13.6 percent less than those made in precious metals (5.6 percent less versus 19.2 percent less).
Broadening our scope beyond the category of steel watches, we took a deep dive into a number of different segments, selecting seven incredible timepieces that lead their respective categories not necessarily by being the most affordable, but by offering a level of finishing, functionality, or complication that is seldom seen for the same price.